The Beginning Of The End
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During The Best Period Of Economic Growth In U.S. History There Was No Income Tax And No Federal Reserve

The American Free Market System At WorkHow would America ever survive without the central planners in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve?  What in the world would we do if there was no income tax and no IRS?  Could the U.S. economy possibly keep from collapsing under such circumstances?  The mainstream media would have us believe that unless we have someone “to pull the levers” our economy would descend into utter chaos, but the truth is that the best period of economic growth in U.S. history occurred during a time when there was no income tax and no Federal Reserve.  Between the Civil War and 1913, the U.S. economy experienced absolutely explosive growth.  The free market system thrived and the rest of the world looked at us with envy.  The federal government was very limited in size, there was no income tax for most of that time and there was no central bank.  To many Americans, it would be absolutely unthinkable to have such a society today, but it actually worked very, very well.  Without the inventions and innovations that came out of that period, the world would be a far different place today.

It is amazing what can happen when the government just gets out of the way.  Check out all of the wonderful things that Wikipedia says happened for the U.S. economy during those years…

The rapid economic development following the Civil War laid the groundwork for the modern U.S. industrial economy. By 1890, the USA leaped ahead of Britain for first place in manufacturing output.

An explosion of new discoveries and inventions took place, a process called the “Second Industrial Revolution.” Railroads greatly expanded the mileage and built stronger tracks and bridges that handled heavier cars and locomotives, carrying far more goods and people at lower rates. Refrigeration railroad cars came into use. The telephone, phonograph, typewriter and electric light were invented. By the dawn of the 20th century, cars had begun to replace horse-drawn carriages.

Parallel to these achievements was the development of the nation’s industrial infrastructure. Coal was found in abundance in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania south to Kentucky. Oil was discovered in western Pennsylvania; it was mainly used for lubricants and for kerosene for lamps. Large iron ore mines opened in the Lake Superior region of the upper Midwest. Steel mills thrived in places where these coal and iron ore could be brought together to produce steel. Large copper and silver mines opened, followed by lead mines and cement factories.

In 1913 Henry Ford introduced the assembly line, a step in the process that became known as mass-production.

When hard working, industrious people are given freedom to pursue their dreams, great things tend to happen.  The truth is that we were all designed to create, to invent, to build, and to trade with one another.  We all have something that we can contribute to society, and when families are strong and the invisible hand of the free market is allowed to work, societies tend to prosper.

It is not a coincidence that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was between the Civil War and 1913.  The following information comes from Wikipedia

The Gilded Age saw the greatest period of economic growth in American history. After the short-lived panic of 1873, the economy recovered with the advent of hard money policies and industrialization. From 1869 to 1879, the US economy grew at a rate of 6.8% for real GDP and 4.5% for real GDP per capita, despite the panic of 1873.  The economy repeated this period of growth in the 1880s, in which the wealth of the nation grew at an annual rate of 3.8%, while the GDP was also doubled.

Wouldn’t you like U.S. GDP to double over the course of a decade now?

So why don’t we go back to a system like that?

In 1913, the Federal Reserve and a permanent national income tax were introduced.  Today, the unelected central planners at the Federal Reserve totally run our financial system and the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long.  The value of our currency has declined by more than 96 percent since 1913, and the size of our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

Meanwhile, control freak bureaucrats seemingly run everything.  Almost every business decision is heavily influenced either by taxes or by the millions of laws, rules and regulations that are sucking the life out of our economic system.

My favorite example of how suffocating red tape in America has become is the magician out in Missouri that was forced by the Obama administration to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the rabbit that he uses during his magic shows for kids.

It is no wonder why we don’t have any economic growth.  The central planners in the federal government are killing our economy.

And the central planners over at the Federal Reserve are killing our financial system.  In school we are taught that the Fed was created to bring stability to our financial system, but the truth is that they have been responsible for financial bubble after financial bubble, and now Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the world.  When that thing bursts, and it will, we are going to see financial carnage on an unprecedented scale.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the Federal Reserve never has been looking out for the interests of the American people.  It was created by the big banks and it has always worked very hard to benefit the big banks.  During the Fed era, the big banks have become the most powerful economic entities on the entire planet.  Our entire economy is now based on debt, and the big banks are at the very center of this debt spiral.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Paul B. Farrell

Today’s world includes four Wall Street banks each with assets over $1 trillion, each more than Goldman. Plus eight other big global banks each have over $2 trillion total assets, including, among the 100 largest, Barclays, HSBC, Deutsche, ICB-China and Japan’s Mitsubishi.

Yes, this new world is changing fast. Back in 2008 the world’s financial banks were in ruins. Wall Street sunk into virtually bankruptcy. Goldman and its Wall Street too-big-to-fail co-conspirators had trashed the global economy, triggered a virtual depression, and Wall Street’s casinos lost over $10 trillion of Main Street retirement funds.

And as we saw back in 2008, the Federal Reserve is going to do whatever is necessary to prop up Wall Street.  Most Americans never even heard about this, but during the last financial crisis the Fed secretly loaned 16 trillion dollars to the big banks.  Those loans were nearly interest-free and those banks knew that they could get basically as much nearly interest-free money as they wanted from the Fed.

So how much nearly interest-free money did the Fed loan to normal Americans?

Not a single penny.

That would be bad enough, but it is also important to remember that since 2008 the Fed has actually been paying banks NOT to lend money to the rest of us.

What is it going to take for the American people to start demanding that the Fed be abolished?  They are absolutely destroying our financial system.

Meanwhile, the central planners in the Obama administration have been doing their part as well.  During the second quarter of this year, the number of Americans working between 30 and 34 hours per week fell by 146,500.  During that same time period, the number of Americans working between 25 and 29 hours rose by 119,000.

Why is this happening?

Well, the Obamacare employer mandate will apply to workers that work at least 30 hours each week, so employers are starting to cut back on the hours their employees are getting in order to comply with the law.

But this is just one example out of thousands, and most Americans already know that the U.S. economy has been crumbling for many years.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that even 53 percent of all Democrats believe that the American Dream is dead even though Barack Obama is residing in the White House.

But this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get much, much worse.  We are going down the same path that Greece has gone, and the unemployment rate in Greece has just hit a new all-time record high of 27.6 percent.

That is where the U.S. is headed eventually.  Decades of very foolish decisions are catching up with us.

The primary reason why all of this is happening is debt.  As a society, we simply have way, way, way too much debt.

The biggest offender, of course, is the federal government.  Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has, and since the year 2000 the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.

When government debt gets too large, it has a profoundly negative effect on an economy.  The following is an excerpt from an outstanding article by Lacy H. Hunt, a Ph.D. economist

*****

Here are the studies, starting with the one with the broadest implications:

  1. “Government Size and Growth: A Survey and Interpretation of the Evidence,” from Journal of Economic Surveys. Published in April 2011, Swedish economists Andreas Bergh and Magnus Henrekson (both of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics at Lund University) found a “significant negative correlation” between size of government and economic growth. Specifically, “an increase in government size by 10 percentage points is associated with a 0.5% to 1% lower annual growth rate.”
  2. “The Impact of High and Growing Government Debt on Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation for the Euro Area,” in European Central Bank working paper, Number 1237, August 2010. Cristina Checherita and Philipp Rother found that a government-debt-to-GDP ratio above the threshold of 90-100% has a “deleterious” impact on long-term growth. Additionally, the impact of debt on growth is nonlinear – as the government debt rises to higher and higher levels, the adverse growth consequences accelerate.
  3. The Real Effects of Debt, published by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland in August 2011. Stephen G. Cecchetti, M. S.Mohanty, and Fabrizio Zampolli determined that “beyond a certain level, debt is bad for growth. For government debt, the number is about 85% of GDP.”
  4. “Public Debt Overhangs: Advanced-Economy Episodes Since 1800,”by Carmen M. Reinhart, Vincent R. Reinhart, Kenneth S. Rogoff, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 26, Number 3, Summer 2012, pages 69-86. The authors identified 26 cases of “debt overhangs,” which they define as public-debt-to-GDP levels exceeding 90% for at least five years. In spite of the many idiosyncratic differences in these situations, economic growth fell in all but three of the 26 cases. All of the instances, which lasted an average of 23 years, are included in the paper. They found that average annual growth is 1.2% lower for countries with a debt overhang than for countries without. The long duration of such episodes means that cumulative shortfall from the debt excess—i.e., several years in a row of subpar economic growth—is potentially massive.

*****

But it isn’t just federal government debt that is the problem.  The rest of us have way too much debt as well.

If you can believe it, the ratio of private debt to GDP was 273.3% for the twelve months ending in the first quarter of 2013.

That is an astounding figure.

And as Hunt explained, having too much private debt is also very bad for an economy…

In Too Much Finance, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in March 2011, Jean Louis Arcand, Enrico Berkes, and Ugo Panizza found a negative effect on output growth when credit to the private sector reaches 104-110% of GDP. The strongest adverse effects are for credit over 160% of GDP.

The second is the 2011 BIS study authored by Cecchetti, Mohanty, and Zampolli. They found that private debt levels become “cancerous” (in BIS economic advisor Cecchetti’s own words) at 175% (90% for corporations and 85% for households)—just slightly more than the UNCTAD study.

When you add our private debt to GDP ratio of 273 percent to our federal debt to GDP ratio of 101 percent, you get a grand total of 384 percent.

This is how we have funded the false prosperity of the past couple of decades.  Essentially, we have been putting our good times on a credit card.

And as anyone that has ever tried to live on credit knows, the good times eventually run out.

But this is what the Federal Reserve was designed to do.  It was designed to get the U.S. government trapped in a debt spiral from which there would never be any escape.

It is not an accident that our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Fed was originally created.  This is what the bankers wanted the system to do.

They wanted a system that would extract wealth from all of us through taxes, transfer it to the government, and then transfer it to them through interest payments.

We never needed a central bank, we never needed the IRS and we never needed an income tax.  America would be doing just fine without any of them.

But instead, America chose to go down the path of collectivization and central planning, and now we are heading toward the biggest economic disaster in the history of mankind.

18 Signs That Massive Economic Problems Are Erupting All Over The Planet

Volcano Eruption - Mount RedoubtThis is no time to be complacent.  Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine.  In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing.  Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer.  Just look at what is happening in Europe.  The eurozone is now in the midst of the longest recession that it has ever experienced.  Just look at what is happening over in Asia.  Economic growth in India is the lowest that it has been in a decade and the Japanese financial system is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  One of the only places on the entire planet where serious economic problems have not already erupted is in the United States, and that is only because we have “kicked the can down the road” by recklessly printing money and by borrowing money at an unprecedented rate.  Unfortunately, the “sugar high” produced by those foolish measures is starting to wear off.  We are going to experience a massive amount of economic pain along with the rest of the world – it is just a matter of time.

But for the moment, there are a lot of skeptics out there.

For the moment, there are a lot of people that are declaring that the problems of the past have been fixed and that we are heading for incredibly bright economic times ahead.

Unfortunately, those people appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.

The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…

#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever.  Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.

#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.

#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row.  It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.

#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.

#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.

#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high.  Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…

“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.

#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.

#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…

In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.

#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years.  The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…

Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.

In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.

It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.

#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.

#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges.  The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article

-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.

-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker

-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker

#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.

#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession.  This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.

#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States.  Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012.  (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)

#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week.  So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”?  The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…

1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.

2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.

3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.

4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.

5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).

When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.

#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.  That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.

#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high.  The following is from a recent Market Oracle article

Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.) The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day

Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows.  If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.

Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve.  Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too.  And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…

The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.

Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.

The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little.  At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality.  When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful.  Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.

Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse.  Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.

There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…

“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”

Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?

That seems very unlikely.

Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.

What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.

What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.

15 Signs That You Better Get Prepared For The Obama Recession Of 2013

15 Signs That You Better Get Prepared For The Obama Recession Of 2013 - Photo by DjembayzYou better get ready, because there are a whole host of signs that economic trouble is on the horizon.  U.S. economic growth slipped into negative territory during the fourth quarter of 2012.  That was the first time that has happened in more than three years.  Several important measures of manufacturing activity have also contracted in recent weeks, and consumer confidence is way down.  There is a tremendous amount of economic pessimism in the air right now, and Americans are pulling enormous amounts of money out of our banks and they are buying up precious metals at unprecedented rates.  Meanwhile, our “leaders” seem very confused about what is happening.  For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to insist that we are “in a recovery“, and some other Democrats are calling the latest GDP numbers “the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you’ll ever see“.  On the other hand, the Federal Reserve says that economic growth has “paused” in recent months, and therefore a continuation of their latest quantitative easing scheme is necessary.  Well, no matter how hard any of them try to spin the numbers, there is no way that they are going to get them to look good.  Despite four years of outrageous “stimulus” spending by the federal government, despite four years of record low interest rates, and despite four years of unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy continues to perform miserably.  Later this year the federal government will probably finally acknowledge that we have entered another recession, even though the truth is that if the federal government used honest numbers they would indicate that we are already in one.  In any event, nobody should have ever expected that our debt-fueled prosperity would last forever.  When the debt bubble that we have been living in completely bursts, a “recession” will be the least of our worries.

Hopefully this little stretch of false economic hope that we have been living in will last for a little while longer.  I don’t think that too many people are very eager to repeat the horrible economic pain that we experienced back in 2008 and 2009.  Unfortunately, we never fully recovered from that last downturn and now the incredibly foolish decisions that our “leaders” continue to make have made another major economic downturn inevitable.

Personally, I would very much prefer for 2013 to be a year of peace and prosperity for America.  But at this point there appears to be a great deal of downward momentum for the economy.

The following are 15 signs that you better get prepared for the Obama recession of 2013…

#1 The mainstream media was absolutely shocked when it was announced that U.S. GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.  This was the first contraction that the official numbers have shown in more than three years.  But of course the truth is that the official numbers always make things appear better than they really are.  According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, U.S. GDP growth has actually been continuously negative all the way back to 2005 once you account “for distortions in government inflation usage and methodological changes that have resulted in a built-in upside bias to official reporting.”

#2 For the entire year of 2012, official U.S. GDP growth was only about 1.5%.  According to Art Cashin, every time economic growth has fallen that low (below 2 percent annually) the U.S. economy has always ended up going into a recession.

#3 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the United States has hit its lowest level in more than a year.

#4 For the week ending January 26th, initial claims for unemployment rose to 368,000.  In future weeks, watch to see if it goes above 400,000.  If we hit that level, that will be a sign of real trouble for the economy.

#5 During the first full week of January, an astounding $114 billion was pulled out of U.S. banks.  That is the largest amount that we have seen moved out of U.S. banks in one week since 2001.

#6 The U.S. Mint was on pace to sell more silver eagles during the first month of 2013 than it did during the entire year of 2007.  Why is so much silver being sold all of a sudden?

#7 The payroll tax hike that went into effect in January has reduced the paychecks of average American workers by about $100 a month.

#8 Several important measures of manufacturing activity along the east coast missed expectations by a huge margin in January.  The following summary is from a recent Zero Hedge article

So much for the latest “recovery.” While everyone continued to forget that in the New Normal markets do not reflect the underlying economy in the least, and that the all time highs in the Russell 2000 should indicate that the US economy has never been better, things in reality took a deep dive for the worse, at least according to the Empire State Fed, the Philly Fed, and now the Richmond Fed, all of which missed expectations by a huge margin, and are now deep in contraction territory. Moments ago, the Richmond Fed reported that the Manufacturing Index imploded from a 9 in November, 5 in December and missed expectations of a 5 print at -12: this was the biggest miss to expectations since September 2009.

#9 An astounding 33 percent of all “subprime student loans” are at least 90 days past due.  Back in 2007, that number was only at 24 percent.  Could this be evidence that the student loan debt bubble is beginning to burst?

#10 Time Inc. has just announced that it will be eliminating hundreds of jobs.

#11 Blockbuster recently announced that they are closing hundreds of stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs.

#12 Toy maker Hasbro has announced that the size of their workforce will be reduced by about 10 percent.

#13 According to a new Pew Research study that was just released, one out of every seven adults in the United States is financially supporting their kids and their parents at the same time.  Pew Research is calling it “the Sandwich Generation”.

#14 According to one recent Gallup poll, 65 percent of all Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of “economic difficulty“, and 50 percent of all Americans believe that the “best days” of America are now behind us.

#15 According to a different Gallup poll, Americans are now more pessimistic about where the U.S. economy will be five years from now than Gallup has ever recorded before.

So what is Barack Obama doing about all of this?

Not much.

Actually, he is shutting down his much ballyhooed “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness”.  It last convened more than a year ago on Jan. 17th, 2012, and apparently Obama does not feel that it is needed any longer.

Of course we all know that it was just a political stunt to begin with.

Sadly, the truth is that both parties have been leading us down a road toward economic oblivion.  The past four years under Obama have been absolutely nightmarish, and even though the Republicans have been in control of the House for the last couple of years they have done very little to even slow him down.

For much more on the decline of the economy over the past four years, please see this article: “37 Statistics Which Show How Four Years Of Obama Have Wrecked The U.S. Economy“.

Yes, I tend to criticize Obama’s economic policies a lot, and rightfully so, but neither political party is willing to tell the American people the truth.

40 years ago, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system was less than 2 trillion dollars.

Today, the total amount of debt in the U.S. economic system has grown to more than 55 trillion dollars.

It hasn’t mattered which party has occupied the White House or which party has been in control of Congress.  The debt bubble that we have been living in has just continued to grow.

And all bubbles eventually pop.

The mainstream media is endlessly obsessed with the little fights that the Republicans and the Democrats are having, but they never talk about the bigger picture.

The prosperity that we are enjoying today is the result of the biggest debt binge in the history of the world.

We have stolen a giant mountain of money from our children and our grandchildren and we have destroyed their futures.

People can debate about whether the next “recession” has already started or not, but the truth is that what we are experiencing now is nothing compared to what is coming.

In the end, we will pay a great price for our decades of foolishness.

The U.S. economy is going to completely collapse, and the last few years have only been the very beginning of that process.

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama in the Blue Room of the White House on Inauguration Day

5 New Lies That The Federal Reserve Is Telling The American People

The Federal Reserve says that everything is going to be okay.  The Fed says that unemployment is going to go down, inflation is going to remain low and economic growth is going to steadily increase.  Do you believe them this time?  As you will see later in this article, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been dead wrong about the economy over and over again.  But the mainstream media and many Americans still seem to have a lot of faith in the Federal Reserve.  It doesn’t seem to matter that Bernanke and other Fed officials have been telling the American people lies for years.  As I always say, most people believe what they want to believe, and many people seem to want to have blind faith in the Federal Reserve even when logic and reason would dictate otherwise.  The truth is that things are not going to be getting much better than they are right now.  When the next wave of the financial crisis hits, the U.S. economy is going to fall back into recession, financial markets are going to crash and unemployment is going to absolutely skyrocket.  But you will never hear any of that from the Federal Reserve.

The following are 5 new lies that the Federal Reserve is telling the American people.  After each lie I have posted what The Economic Collapse Blog thinks is actually going to happen….

#1 The Federal Reserve says that the labor market has improved and that unemployment is going to decline significantly over the next few years.

The following is a quote from the FOMC press release that was released on Wednesday….

Labor market conditions have improved in recent months; the unemployment rate has declined but remains elevated.

The Federal Reserve is projecting that the unemployment rate will fall within the range of 7.8 percent and 8.0 percent by the end of 2012.

The Federal Reserve is also projecting that the unemployment rate will fall within the range of 6.7 percent and 7.4 percent by the end of 2014.

The Economic Collapse Blog says that the labor market has not improved.  In March 2010, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Exactly two years later in March 2012, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  If the labor market was improving, the percentage of working age Americans with a job should have gone up.

The Economic Collapse Blog also says that while there is a chance the official unemployment rate may go down slightly in the short-term, the truth is that it is going to go up into double digits once the next wave of the financial crisis hits us.

#2 The Federal Reserve says that that U.S. economy is going to experience solid GDP growth over the next couple of years.

In fact, the Federal Reserve is projecting that U.S. GDP will be rising at an annual rate that falls between 3.1 percent and 3.6 percent by the end of 2014.

The Economic Collapse Blog says that a great economic cataclysm is coming….

“When the European banking system crashes (and it will) it is going to reverberate around the globe.  The epicenter of the next great financial crisis is going to be in Europe, and it is getting closer with each passing day.”

#3 The Federal Reserve says that we can expect low inflation for an extended period of time.

The Federal Reserve is officially projecting that the annual rate of inflation will not be higher than 2.0 percent by the end of 2012.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reinforced this projection during his press conference on Wednesday….

“But we expect that to pass through the system, and assuming no new shocks in the oil sector, inflation ought to moderate to about 2 percent later this year.”

The Economic Collapse Blog says that the Fed is being tremendously dishonest and that if inflation was measured the exact same way that it was measured back in 1980, the annual rate of inflation would be more than 10 percent right now.

The truth is that most middle class families know that we do not have low inflation right now.  This is hammered home millions of times a day when average Americans visit the gas station or the grocery store.

At the beginning of the next recession inflation will likely subside, but that will only be because economic activity will be slowing down dramatically.

#4 The Federal Reserve says that it has built up a 30 year reputation for keeping inflation low.

Ben Bernanke actually had the gall to make the following claim during his press conference on Wednesday….

“We, the Federal Reserve, have spent 30 years building up credibility for low and stable inflation, which has proved extremely valuable in that we’ve been able to take strong accommodative actions in the last four, five years to support the economy.”

Oh really?

The Economic Collapse Blog says that the Federal Reserve has nearly a 100 year reputation for destroying the value of the U.S. dollar.  Even using the Fed’s doctored numbers, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 95 percent since 1913.

To get a really good idea of just how much the dollar has been destroyed by the Fed over the years, just check out this chart.

#5 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that we should trust him because the Federal Reserve stands ready to do whatever is necessary to support the U.S. economy.

“If appropriate… we remain entirely prepared to take additional action”

The Economic Collapse Blog says that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing a great disservice by not warning the American people about the tremendous crisis that is coming.  In a recent article I stated that this next crisis will blindside most Americans just like the last one did….

“Sadly, just like back in 2008, most people will never even see this next crisis coming.”

So who should you trust – the Federal Reserve or all of the half-crazed bloggers out there that are warning about the “serious doom” that is coming.

Well, come back to this article in a year or two and compare how accurate the predictions were.

In the end, time will tell who is telling lies and who is not.

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

For example, let’s take a quick look at Ben Bernanke’s track record over the past several years.

The following are statements that Bernanke actually made to the public….

#1 (July, 2005) “We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

#2 (October 20, 2005) “House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”

#3 (November 15, 2005) “With respect to their safety, derivatives, for the most part, are traded among very sophisticated financial institutions and individuals who have considerable incentive to understand them and to use them properly.”

#4 (February 15, 2006) “Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

#5 (February 15, 2007) “Despite the ongoing adjustments in the housing sector, overall economic prospects for households remain good. Household finances appear generally solid, and delinquency rates on most types of consumer loans and residential mortgages remain low.”

#6 (March 28, 2007) “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

#7 (May 17, 2007) “All that said, given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.  The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well.  Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable.”

#8 (January 10, 2008) “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

#9 (June 10, 2008) “The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.”

But don’t worry, Ben Bernanke insists that he knows exactly what is going on this time.

So do you believe him?

A lot of Americans don’t.  In fact, an “economic collapse” is the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about according to one recent survey.

Perhaps that is one reason why so many Americans are preparing for doomsday these days.

The central planners over at the Federal Reserve are not going to solve our economic problems.

The truth is that the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems.

We have been living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world and that debt bubble has been facilitated by the Fed.

Over the past three decades, the total amount of debt in America has increased by about 50 trillion dollars.  By stealing from future generations, we have been able to live like kings and queens, but there is going to be a great price to pay for our foolishness.

Ben Bernanke and the other folks running the Federal Reserve are just going to keep insisting that everything is going to be okay for as long as they possibly can.  They are going to tell you that they know exactly how to fix things and that the economy will be back on track very soon.

Don’t be stupid and believe them this time.

The United Nations Wants To Crash The World Economy In Order To Save The Environment

The United Nations says that the earth is in great danger and that the way you and I are living is the problem.  In a shocking new report entitled, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing” the UN declares that the entire way that we currently approach economics needs to be changed.  Instead of focusing on things like “economic growth”, the UN is encouraging nations all over the world to start basing measurements of economic success on the goal of achieving “sustainable development”.  But there is a huge problem with that.  The UN says that what we are doing right now is “unsustainable” by definition, and the major industrialized nations of the western world are the biggest culprits.  According to the UN, since we are the ones that create the most carbon emissions and the most pollution, we are the ones that should make the biggest sacrifices.  In addition, since we have the most money, we should also be willing to finance the transition of the developing world to a “sustainable development” economy as well.  As you will see detailed in the rest of this article, the United Nations basically wants to crash the world economy in order to save the environment.  Considering the fact that the U.S. and Europe are in the midst of a horrible economic crisis and are already drowning in debt, this is something that we simply cannot afford.

There is certainly nothing wrong with taking care of the environment.  But what the United Nations wants is a fundamental restructuring of the global economy based on flawed science.

In this new UN report, we find the following statement….

Achieving sustainability requires us to transform the global economy. Tinkering on the margins will not do the job.

This is absolutely crucial to understand.

The folks over at the UN don’t just want to change things a little.

Their goal is a radical transformation of the entire world.

According to the United Nations, if we don’t implement their recommendations the consequences will be absolutely disastrous….

But what, then, is to be done if we are to make a real difference for the world’s people and the planet? We must grasp the dimensions of the challenge. We must recognize that the drivers of that challenge include unsustainable lifestyles, production and consumption patterns and the impact of population growth. As the global population grows from 7 billion to almost 9 billion by 2040, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially. By 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water — all at a time when environmental boundaries are throwing up new limits to supply. This is true not least for climate change, which affects all aspects of human and planetary health.

So what changes are needed in order for us to achieve a “sustainable” global economy?

Well, the following are some of the disturbing recommendations that we find in the new UN report….

Raise Prices

According to the United Nations, we need to start significantly raising the prices of things that are made in an “unsustainable” way so that they reflect the “true cost” of their production….

Most goods and services sold today fail to bear the full environmental and social cost of production and consumption. Based on the science, we need to reach consensus, over time, on methodologies to price them properly. Costing environmental externalities could open new opportunities for green growth and green jobs

That means that you and I would start paying a lot more for the basic things that we need every day – food, gasoline, etc.

Carbon Taxes

The UN report also discusses the need to use regulations and taxation as tools to penalize economic activities that are not “sustainable”….

Establish natural resource and externality pricing instruments, including carbon pricing, through mechanisms such as taxation, regulation or emissions trading systems, by 2020

This is one of the favorite things that social engineers like to do.  They love to use taxation and regulations as weapons to get people to do the things they want.

Base Lending Decisions On Sustainable Development Criteria

The United Nations is actually suggesting that lending decisions be based on whether or not the money will be used for something “sustainable”….

Reform national fiscal and credit systems to provide long-term incentives for sustainable practices, as well as disincentives for unsustainable behaviour

Considering the fact that the entire global economy is based on credit, this is a very dangerous recommendation.

Green Jobs

The UN report also says that governments all over the world should seek to create as many “green jobs” as possible….

Governments should adopt and advance “green jobs” and decent work policies as a priority in their budgets and sustainable development strategies while creating conditions for new jobs in the private sector.

This is something that we have seen Barack Obama try to do, but obviously he has not had much success at it.

A New Economic Paradigm

According to the UN, the very way that we define “economic success” needs to be changed.  Instead of looking at statistics such as GDP and inflation, we should be measuring what we do by how much it gets us closer to a “sustainable world”….

Expanding how we measure progress in sustainable development by creating a sustainable development index or set of indicators

So an economic collapse could actually be “good” if we make “progress” toward the goal of sustainable development.

Wealthy Countries Funding The Sustainable Development Goals Of Poor Countries

The UN report makes it clear that you and I will be paying for sustainable development all over the world in addition to paying for our own transition to a sustainable economy….

Financing sustainable development requires vast new sources of capital from both private and public sources. It requires both mobilizing more public funds and using global and national capital to leverage global private capital through the development of incentives. Official development assistance will also remain critical for the sustainable development needs of low-income countries

But considering the fact that the United States is already flat broke, where are we going to come up with all of this money?

Teach Sustainable Development To Our Children

The United Nations also believes that this philosophy of “sustainable development” should be taught to children in public schools all over the globe….

Government and non-governmental entities should promote the concept of sustainable development and sustainable consumption, and these should be integrated into curricula of primary and secondary education.

Sadly, this agenda is already being pushed on our children in schools all over the United States.  When these children grow up, the concepts behind “sustainable development” will be second nature for them.

Population Control

Those that believe in sustainable development want to reduce carbon emissions by as much as possible.

When you sit down and really think about that, it becomes quite frightening.

Nearly every form of economic activity produces carbon emissions.

In fact, if you just sit in your home and breathe, you are producing carbon emissions.

So to them, you and I are the problem.

For those that are worried about man-made global warming, the math is simple.

The more people on earth, the higher the level of carbon emissions will be.

The less people on earth, the lower the level of carbon emissions will be.

So those that believe in sustainable development love to promote things that will reduce the human population of the earth.

In fact, we see this agenda reflected in one of the recommendations of the new UN report….

Ensuring universal access to quality and affordable family-planning and other sexual and reproductive rights and health services.

If more women have access to abortion facilities, then less babies will be born.  For those that believe in sustainable development, that is a good thing.

But the UN has been pushing this kind of agenda for a long time.

For example, the United Nations Population Fund released a report back in 2009 entitled “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate” that included the following very chilling statement….

“Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants. Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time.”

This population control agenda is also being heavily promoted by many of the wealthiest people in the world.  Many big “philanthropists” such as Bill Gates are using their money to fund research into population control measures.  For example, Gates is currently funding research on “cutting edge” forms of birth control that could potentially be used all over the world.  The following comes from a recent Natural News article….

Mass vaccination is apparently not the only depopulation strategy being employed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as new research funded by the organization has developed a way to deliberately destroy sperm using ultrasound technology. BBC News reports that the Gates Foundation awarded a grant to researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) to develop this new method of contraception.

For their study, the UNC team tested ultrasound on lab rats and found that two 15-minute doses “significantly reduced” both sperm counts and sperm integrity. When administered two days apart through warm salt water, ultrasound caused the rats’ sperm counts to drop below ten million sperm per milliliter, which is five million less than the “sub-fertile” range, and stay that way for up to six months.

This population control agenda is one of the most frightening elements of sustainable development.  Many advocates of sustainable development would actually cheer if something suddenly caused the population of the earth to drop dramatically.

Much Stronger Global Governance

The new UN report also advocates stronger “international governance” by bodies such as the United Nations….

International institutions have a critical role. International governance for sustainable development must be strengthened by using existing institutions more dynamically and by considering the creation of a global sustainable development council and the adoption of sustainable development goals

But this has been the ultimate goal of these control freaks for a long time.  The idea is that a “global government” and a “global economy” will bring a great era of peace and prosperity to all of humanity.

Of course that is a complete and total lie, but there are a lot of people out there that actually believe this stuff.

In fact, the economic crisis that we are going through right now has renewed calls for a “global currency” which would be used by the whole world.

For example, you can watch banker Evelyn de Rothschild discuss the “need” for an “international currency” on Bloomberg Television in the following video….

The new UN report reflects this globalist agenda.  The report states that “the peoples of the world” are not going to put up with all of this “inequality” any longer and that they will be demanding that their national governments adopt a “sustainable development” agenda….

“The peoples of the world will simply not tolerate continued environmental devastation or the persistent inequality which offends deeply held universal principles of social justice. Citizens will no longer accept governments and corporations breaching their compact with them as custodians of a sustainable future for all. More generally, international, national and local governance across the world must fully embrace the requirements of a sustainable development future, as must civil society and the private sector.”

If you want to get a really good idea of what a “sustainable development” society would look like, just check out the video posted below….

If you do not want to end up living in a “Planned-opolis” where virtually everything you do is watched, tracked and controlled by bureaucratic control freaks, then you better say something now.

If the United Nations actually succeeded in implementing this agenda worldwide, it would crash the global economy and it would be the end of national sovereignty.

Unfortunately, many of those that are promoting this agenda are absolute fanatics about it because they are convinced that they are saving the planet.  They are so obsessed with “rescuing the earth” that they would do almost anything to all the rest of us in order to accomplish that goal.

Yes, we need to be concerned about the future of the planet, but the truth is that the “sustainable development” agenda is based on flawed science and it would make our economic problems far worse.

But the control freaks that are obsessed with “sustainable development” are going to continue to try to cram this agenda down our throats, so this is a battle that is likely to go on for many years.

Economic Recovery?

If this is supposed to be an “economic recovery” it sure is pathetic.  In fact, as you will read below, the numbers tell us that this is the worst economic recovery that the American economy has ever seen.  If what we had experienced was a “normal” recession and a “normal” recovery, then jobs, economic growth and home values would have come roaring back by now.  But they haven’t.  The Federal Reserve injected unprecedented amounts of new money into the system and the federal government went into unprecedented amounts of new debt, but all of that effort has not accomplished much.  It did buy us a little bit of time and a period of relative economic stability, but now there are all kinds of signs that we are about to go into another recession (or something even worse).  So is it really honest for Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama to be using the term “economic recovery” to describe what is happening?

The truth is that what is really taking place is that the long-term economic decline of the United States is beginning to accelerate.

But most Americans simply don’t understand what is going on.

The mainstream media teaches us to blame our politicians for the economy.  One recent survey found that 44 percent of the American people believe that the U.S. economy is “worse than when Obama was inaugurated”.

Yes, Barack Obama is a horrible president.  But the economic downfall of this nation is not all his fault.  George W. Bush was a horrible president too.  So was Bill Clinton.  Congress has been corrupt and incompetent for decades.

Of course the institution that is most responsible for our economic problems is the Federal Reserve.  Thankfully, more Americans than ever are starting to realize this.

But if you listen to Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama, you would think that a great “economic recovery” has begun.  They would have us believe that they know exactly what our problems are and that they know exactly how to get us out of this mess.

Unfortunately, what we have experienced is not much of an “economic recovery” at all.  According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the worst “recovery” from a recession that the U.S. economy has ever seen….

On economic growth, real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries. From the beginning of the recession to April 2011, real personal income has grown just .9% compared to 9.4% for the same period in previous post 1960 recessions.

So what is really going on?

Sadly, what we are experiencing right now is a brief period of stability in the middle of a downward spiral toward economic oblivion.

The CEO of Pimco, Mohamed El-Erian, says that it should now be obvious to everyone that all of the efforts of the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy simply have not been enough to solve the structural economic challenges that we are facing….

“It’s clear that the stimulus-induced recovery hasn’t overcome the structural challenges to large-scale job creation.”

The U.S. economy is not producing enough jobs.  Today, there are 25 million Americans that are either unemployed or underemployed.

But the inability to create jobs is not a new phenomenon for the U.S. economy.  The truth is that between 2000 and 2007, the U.S. economy had its poorest stretch of job creation since the Great Depression.

However, since 2007 the employment situation in this country has gotten a lot worse.  Take a minute and watch the stunning video posted below.  It shows how rampant unemployment swept across this country between 2007 and 2011….

Our politicians promised us that globalization would be great for the U.S. economy.

Well, it was great for the big corporations to be able to pay slave labor wages to workers on the other side of the globe, but things have not worked out so well for workers in this country.

Millions of our jobs have been lost.  Millions more jobs are being lost.  Yet our politicians do nothing to stop the bleeding.

Things have gotten so bad that even the top of the food chain is shipping jobs overseas.

Just consider this recent headline which appeared in Business Insider: “Goldman Sachs Is Firing Employees In The US So It Can Hire 1,000 In Singapore

If even jobs at Goldman Sachs are being sent out of the country, are any of our jobs safe?

Many Americans would love to start a business instead of having to work for someone else, but the economic environment has become incredibly toxic for small businesses in the United States.

The rate of new business creation in the United States has been declining steadily since the 1980s.  Our politicians are literally choking the entrepreneurial spirit to death in this country.

Today, more Americans than ever are dependent on the government.  In fact, it has gotten to the point where the U.S. economy itself is highly dependent on the government.

So what is going to happen when the government is not handing out so many goodies?

The era of rampant spending in Washington D.C. seems to be coming to an end, at least for now.  The U.S. national debt has become so outrageous that many members of Congress are finally determined to start making some cuts.

While it is true that cutting government spending is long overdue, most Americans don’t realize that cutting government spending will also mean that “the economic sugar high” that we have been experiencing will start to wear off.

If we try to live within our means, that is going to cause a lot of economic pain, and the American people are not too good about making sacrifices these days.

Look, whoever is elected in 2012 is going to be in for a rough ride.  Some very difficult economic times are ahead, and whoever is elected in 2012 is going to get blamed.  By 2016, the president is probably going to be the most hated person in America.

But the truth is that these economic problems have been building for decades.

We didn’t get here by accident, and our economic problems are not going to be solved overnight.

In fact, many financial analysts are warning that they are about to get a lot worse.

For example, David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff says that there is a 99 percent chance that the U.S. will fall into another recession by the end of 2012.

As the economy continues to crumble, U.S. cities will become increasingly hostile places in which to live.

According to a recent Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, 41 percent of Americans say that crime has increased where they live over the past year and only 6 percent of Americans say that crime has decreased where they live over the past year.

But just wait until the economy really collapses – that is when all hell will break loose.

In a recent article entitled “Is The Economy Improving?“, I quoted statistic after statistic that showed that the U.S. economy is actually continuing to decline.

The American people are starting to lose patience.  In fact, people all over the country are starting to get more than a little crazy.  For example, there is a now a national “epidemic” of people robbing pharmacies in order to get a hold of painkillers.

Pharmacists all over the country are being robbed at gunpoint.  Some prescription painkillers will reportedly sell for as much as 80 dollars a pill on the street.  As a recent article in the Washington Post noted, things are getting really dangerous out there for pharmacists….

“It’s an epidemic,” said Michael Fox, a pharmacist on New York’s Staten Island who has been stuck up twice in the last year. “These people are depraved. They’ll kill you.”

Armed robberies at pharmacies rose 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. The number of pills stolen went from 706,000 to 1.3 million. Thieves are overwhelmingly taking oxycodone painkillers like OxyContin or Roxicodone, or hydrocodone-based painkillers like Vicodin and Norco. Both narcotics are highly addictive.

But this is what our country is turning into.

We are a nation of addicts.

Our national addiction to debt and our national addiction to greed have brought us to the brink of economic disaster.

If you are waiting for an “economic recovery”, you should stop waiting.

This is about as good as things are going to get.

From here on out, things are just going to keep going downhill.

Most Americans are going to be absolutely blindsided by the economic collapse that is coming.

But that doesn’t have to be you.

You still have some time to get prepared.

5 Dollar Gas? Get Ready To Pay An Arm And A Leg For Gasoline

One of the quickest ways to bring down the U.S. economy would be to dramatically increase the price of oil. Oil is the lifeblood of our economic system. Without it, our entire economy would come to a grinding halt. Almost every type of economic activity in this country depends on oil, and even a small rise in the price of oil can have a dramatic impact on economic growth.  That is why so many economists are incredibly alarmed about what is happening in the Middle East right now.  The revolution in Libya caused the price of WTI crude to soar more than 7 dollars on Tuesday alone.  It closed at $93.57 on Tuesday and Brent crude actually hit $108.57 a barrel before settling back to $105.78 at the end of the day.  Some analysts are warning that we could even see 5 dollar gas in the United States by the end of the year if rioting spreads to other oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia.  With the Middle East in such a state of chaos right now it is hard to know exactly what is going to happen, but almost everyone agrees that if oil prices continue to rise at a rapid pace over the next several months it is going to have a devastating impact on economic growth all over the globe.

Right now the eyes of the world are on Libya.  Libya is the 17th largest oil producer on the globe and it has the biggest proven oil reserves on the continent of Africa.

Libya only produces 2 percent of the oil in the world, but with global supplies so tight at the moment even a minor production disruption can have a dramatic impact on the price of oil.

Before this crisis, Libya was producing approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil per day.  Now the rest of the world is wondering what may happen if revolution spreads to other major oil producing nations such as Kuwait (2.5 million barrels of oil per day) or Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia produces 8.4 million barrels of oil a day.  It produces more oil than anyone else in OPEC.

If revolution strikes in Saudi Arabia and a major production disruption happens it could be catastrophic for the global economy.

David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates, is warning that if there is major civil unrest in Saudi Arabia we could end up seeing oil go up to $200 a barrel….

“If Libya can spark a $10-a-barrel response, imagine what a similar uprising in Saudi Arabia could unleash. Do the math: we’d be talking about $200 oil.”

200 dollar oil?

Don’t laugh – it could happen.

In fact, if it does happen the global economy would probably go into cardiac arrest.

The truth is that if the flow of oil from Saudi Arabia gets disrupted there is not enough spare capacity from the rest of the globe to make up for it.

Paul Horsnell, the head of oil research at Barclays Capital, recently said that the world does not currently have enough spare capacity to be able to guarantee that an oil “price shock” will not happen….

“The world has only 4.5m barrels-per-day (bpd) of spare capacity, which is not comfortable.”

Horsnell also said that even in the midst of potential supply problems, the global demand for oil continues to grow at a very robust pace….

“In just two years, the world has grown so fast as to consume additional volume equal to the output of Iraq and Kuwait combined.”

For now, Saudi officials are saying all the right things.  They say that there will be no revolution in Saudi Arabia and that there are not going to be any supply problems.

For example, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi recently announced that the rest of the world should not worry because his country is definitely going to be able to make up for any shortage in the global supply of oil….

“What I would like you to convey to the market: right now there is absolutely no shortage of supply.”

But what happens if revolution comes to Saudi Arabia?

Suddenly the whole game would change.

But even with a peaceful Saudi Arabia the price of gasoline in the United States is already rising to alarming levels.

The average price of gasoline in the United States reached $3.14 a gallon last week.  This closely mirrors what happened back in 2008.  Three years ago at this time the average price of gasoline was right around $3.13 a gallon.

Let’s certainly hope that we don’t see a repeat of what happened to oil prices back in mid-2008.  The price of oil reached an all-time record of $147 a barrel and gas prices in the United States absolutely skyrocketed.

So how high will the price of gas in the U.S. go in 2011?

We haven’t even come close to 4 dollar gas yet, but a large number of analysts believe that it is coming this summer.

Is there even a possibility that we could see 5 dollar gas in America at some point in the next couple of years?

Well, there are some in the oil industry that are convinced that it could actually happen.  Just consider the following quotes….

Darin Newsom, senior analyst at energy tracker DTN….

“If this thing escalates and there’s a good chance that there’d be a shift in supplies, $5 gas isn’t out of the question.”

Peter Beutel, president of energy adviser Cameron Hanover….

“If you are looking at the disruption of movement and production in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, you’re easily talking $5 gas.”

John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, on his belief that we could see 5 dollar gas by 2012….

“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices.”

So why is everyone so concerned about gas prices?

Well, because it affects the price of almost everything else in the economy.

David Wyss, the chief economist at Standard & Poor’s, says that every extra dollar that is spent on gasoline is a dollar that will not be spent somewhere else….

“The money that you spend filling up your car is money you don’t have to spend at the shopping mall.”

Not only that, but when gasoline costs more it has a negative effect on economic growth.  Almost all economic activities involve the use of oil in one form or another.  When the price of oil starts getting really high it motivates people to start cutting back on many of those activities.

The truth is that our whole economic system is based on the ability to use massive amounts of very cheap oil.  Now that the price of oil is rapidly rising again, many economists are becoming very alarmed.

Nobuo Tanaka, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, recently told CNBC that his organization is extremely concerned about what high oil prices could do to the global economy….

“That is our concern, regardless of the margins of disruption, if the $100 per barrel of oil is continued in 2011, the burden of oil to the global economy is as bad as 2008.”

So what was so bad about 2008?  Well, the price of oil soared to $147 a barrel in mid-2008 and this was a huge factor in the financial collapse that happened a few months later.  Now oil prices are returning to levels that we have not seen since 2008….

So if the price of oil breaks the all-time record this year will we see another global financial crisis?

It is hard to say.  But what almost everyone agrees on is that it will not be good for the global economy at all.

In addition, a higher price for oil will also have a huge impact on the trade deficit.  Because oil prices were at such a high level back in 2008, oil imports actually made up almost 50 percent of the U.S. trade deficit that year.

In 2010, the U.S. trade deficit was just a whisker under $500 billion.  If the price of oil gets up to 140 or 150 dollars a barrel we could easily see the U.S. trade deficit explode to 700 or 800 billion dollars in 2011.

That would be really, really bad for the U.S. economy.

So where are oil prices going next?

Well, if you could predict that with 100 percent certainty you could make a whole lot of money.  Nobody knows for sure.

But almost everyone believes that the price of oil is going to go up.  In fact, a lot number of investors have been making some very large bets that the price of oil is going to go up very significantly this year.

Recently, large numbers of investors have been betting that the price of oil will rise to $125 a barrel by May.  Shockingly, some investors have even been betting that the price of oil will rise to $250 a barrel by next December.

Let us hope that the price of oil does not rise that rapidly, but as the past couple of months have demonstrated, the world is becoming a very unstable place.   Just about anything is possible at this point.

If the price of oil rises significantly above $100 a barrel and it stays there for an extended period of time, it is going to be absolutely devastating for the U.S. economy.

So what do you all think is going to happen to the price of oil in 2011?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts below….

Barack Obama’s Budget For 2012: A Complete And Total Joke

Is Barack Obama trying to play a joke on all of us?  The budget that the Obama administration has submitted for fiscal 2012 is so out of touch with reality that it may as well be a budget for “Narnia”, “Fantasy Island”, “Atlantis” or some other mythical land.  You can view the hard numbers for Barack Obama’s 2012 budget right here.  Obama’s budget assumes that the U.S. will experience economic growth of over 5 percent for most of the coming decade.  That is so far-fetched that “optimistic” is not the right word for it.  It also assumes that U.S. government income (primarily made up of taxes on all of us) will more than double over the next ten years.  For 2011, the budget projects that the U.S. government will take in a total of 2.1 trillion dollars, and for 2021 the budget projects that the U.S. government will take in a total of 4.9 trillion dollars.  For the Obama administration to assume that the federal government will be able to drain an extra 2.8 trillion dollars per year out of the American people by the year 2021 is ridicul0us beyond belief.  In his new budget Barack Obama does propose some very, very modest spending cuts that he knows have no chance of getting through Congress.  Barack Obama’s budget for 2012 also does not even attempt to make any cuts to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  In essence, you can sum up Barack Obama’s budget proposal for 2012 by saying that it is a complete and total joke.  This budget is so delusional and so out of touch with reality that it is hard to imagine anyone taking it seriously.

Oh, but Obama is really trying to sell it hard.  When Obama unveiled this new  $3.7 trillion budget for 2012 at a middle school in Baltimore, he insisted that his plan will make it “so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker anywhere in the world.

Well, that is a nice sound bite, but as I have written about previously, unless Barack Obama suddenly finds a way to stop multinational corporations from paying slave labor wages to their workers on the other side of the globe the job losses in America are going to continue.

But that is a topic for another day.  Getting back to the 2012 budget, Obama is proposing to cut more than a trillion dollars from federal budget deficits over the next ten years.

That sounds really good until you figure out that means that the cuts only amount to about $100 billion a year.  Considering the fact that Obama’s budget is projecting that we will have a $1.6 trillion budget deficit this year alone, that really is not a whole heck of a lot to be cutting.

The truth is that Barack Obama should be proposing spending cuts that are at least ten times as large if he was actually serious about addressing our budget woes.

But at least Obama is not proposing an increase in spending.

Oh wait, he actually is.

In fact, under Obama’s budget, U.S. government spending will soar from 3.8 trillion dollars this year to 5.6 trillion dollars in 2021.

But the mainstream media is solely focusing on the budget cuts that Obama is proposing.

Apparently they are trying to cast him as some sort of “fiscal conservative”.

Try not to laugh.

But the modest cuts that Obama is proposing are at least some place to start.

Under Obama’s budget, approximately half of all government agencies will have their funding decreased from 2010 levels.

In fact, approximately 33 billion dollars would be saved by scaling back or shutting down 200 federal programs.

Of course Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress will never go along with many of these cuts, but at least it is something.

However, this is where most in the mainstream media stop their analysis.

They don’t take a closer look at the numbers in Obama’s budget.

They don’t question the wacky economic growth assumptions.

They don’t question the bizarre government income projections.

But even with the Obama administration’s crooked numbers, the federal deficit still never drops below 600 billion dollars over the next decade and a total of 7.2 trillion dollars is still added to the national debt over the next decade.

If economic growth ends up being much lower, or if the U.S. government is not able to get twice as much money out of the American people by the end of the decade then the projections would look much, much different.

So where does the Obama administration assume all of that extra money for the government is going to come from?

Oh, from raising taxes of course.

The Obama budget assumes that there will be significant tax increases starting in the year 2013.

A recent article on CNBC summarized some of the tax increases that the Obama budget calls for….

The plan unveiled Monday includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.-based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.

Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.

There are many liberals (such as my friend Gary) that would love to see these tax increases go into effect, but Obama knows that there is no chance that they will ever see the light of day unless the Democrats retake the House of Representatives.

But most of Obama’s budget for 2012 is based on things that simply never even have a chance of happening.

The reality is that Obama’s budget for 2012 is a great work of fiction.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to accumulate staggering amounts of debt.

In fact, Obama’s budget admits that we will witness the biggest one year debt increase in history this year.

In 2011, the gross federal debt with surpass 15 trillion dollars.  In fact, it is being projected by some analysts that this will be the year when the debt finally becomes larger than the size of the entire U.S. economy.

Ouch.

But Obama insists that he is taking this debt problem very seriously.

Obama insists that he is committed to making “deep” cuts.

In fact, as he announced this new budget Obama stated that these budget cuts hit “many programs whose mission I care deeply about, but meeting our fiscal targets while investing in our future demands no less.”

Do any of you actually believe him?

Not that the Obama administration is in an easy position.  The truth is that the U.S. government (both Republicans and Democrats) have been horribly irresponsible with our money for decades.

The 14 trillion dollar national debt problem that we have now did not develop overnight.

Neither will it be solved overnight.

But Obama is not even trying to address the tough issues such as Social Security and Medicare.

The truth is that the federal debt problem cannot be solved without addressing our out of control entitlement programs.

So why didn’t Obama address them in his budget?

Well, the reality is that Obama is not stupid.  Social Security and Medicare are political sacred cows.  Obama is not going to do anything at this point that would cost him millions of votes in 2012.

So Barack Obama ignored most of the $4 trillion in budget cuts recommended by the White House-appointed deficit commission.

It kind of makes you wonder why Obama ever appointed a “deficit commission” in the first place.

One area that Obama does attempt to cut in his new budget is military spending.  Obama’s budget for 2012 sets military spending at 5 percent below what the Pentagon requested for 2011.

In fact, Obama’s defense budget would slash military spending by $78 billion over the next five years.

His budget also assumes that we are not going to get involved in any more wars, which is not necessarily a safe assumption.

So will these military spending cuts actually get through Congress?

Not likely.

The Republicans control the House of Representatives, and they are not likely to take too kindly to large cuts to the defense budget.

In fact, the truth is that not too many of Barack Obama’s spending cuts are likely to survive in Congress.

As a recent article on CNN explained, Barack Obama’s budget plan must navigate a vast array of congressional committees in the coming months and by the time it emerges it is likely to be radically changed from its current form….

Before it gets back to Obama’s desk for a signature, the spending blueprint will go through no less than 40 congressional committees, 24 subcommittees, countless hearings and a number of floor votes in the House and Senate.

As our Congress critters have demonstrated over and over and over, they love to spend our money on some of the most wasteful things imaginable.

For example, a total of $3 million has already been granted to researchers at the University of California at Irvine so that they can play video games such as World of Warcraft.

Something seems to happen to people who get elected to Congress.  Almost all of them seem to develop an addiction to spending our hard-earned money.

Let us hope that something changes in that regard, because right now government debt is completely and totally out of control.

In fact, the U.S. national debt is currently increasing by approximately 4 billion dollars every single day.

In the end, if something is not done about all this debt it will destroy the entire U.S. financial system.

But our politicians just keep putting it off and putting it off.

Eventually we will reap what we have sown.  Debt is a very cruel master, and nobody can run from it forever – not even the U.S. government.

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